Dharma Pearls Updates

I wondered what happened when I stopped getting emails. The work you’re doing is valuable and I wish I was in a position to help make it financially sustainable for you to continue. I hope you find some way to get back to it sooner rather than later.


I rejoice in the work that has been done and humbled by your progress so far. Hopefully you will be able to return to it soon and continue to make the Dharma available to us all and to future generations of English speaking Buddhists. Your work is appreciated and is important to many.

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!


Dharma Pearls has been updated with the first fairly-well-edited translation of MA 72 The Legend of King Dirghayu. Spanning a full fascicle of the Madhyama Agama, the translation got close to 10k words of English.

The Pali parallels for this sutra is MN 128 Corruptions and Kd 10 in the Vinaya, but it’s quite a bit longer, mainly because of the inclusion of the avadana story about King Dirghayu.


I’ve posted my translation of MA 73 The Gods today at Dharma Pearls. It’s a close parallel to AN 8.64 with only minor differences like the place where the discourse took place.

It makes sense for this sutra to appear immediately after MA 72 because the topic of perceiving light and seeing forms while in concentration was broached as a topic without much definition. In MA 73, it becomes clear that it refers to using the power of the divine eye while in concentration to have visions of the gods and the heavens where they reside. It’s fascinating text insofar as the Buddha seems to describe a thorough exploration of the heavens through this type of concentration.

The biggest mystery about the Chinese of this sutra is in fact the place where it was taught. We have a transliteration of some Sanskrit or Prakit place that looks very close to Pali Cetīsu (“Chitisho”), but the grove that’s cited is unknown to me. The Chinese translates literally as “Waterside Grove.”


Thanks, that’s fascinating.

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Thank you for a wonderful introduction to a new sutta!

I had often wondered about the meditation on light mentioned in DN33. Your translation answered my questions. :pray:

I have a small question about the pronoun reference of “theirs” in the following. I tentatively assume it means what Bhante Sujato referes to as “those deities.” Although the original Chinese might not make such explicit reference to devas, would it make sense for the translation to have at least the first reference be specific?

‘I’d like to be able to produce their light. As a result of their light, I’ll see shapes and forms. Thus, my knowledge and vision will be fully and radiantly purified.’

AN8.64:3.2: But I didn’t associate with those deities, converse, or engage in discussion.


That’s a perceptive question. The Chinese has a possessive pronoun in front of light, before the gods are mentioned, so it’s awkward sounding. I read it the same way you suggest, that it’s referring to the light of the devas or the heavens, so I translated it in plural.


Today I posted a translation of another short sutra: MA 74 Eight Thoughts. It’s parallel to the Pali AN 8.30 Aniruddha and the Great Thoughts, and the two sutras are fairly close to each other.

MA 74 is more embellished than the Pali, adding more parables illustrating the eight thoughts and doubling Aniruddha’s verses at the end. Another difference is that the Chinese for the last of the eight thoughts seems closer to frivolity than proliferation, looking at how the same term is used in other sutras. The basic meaning is playing or not being serious, and it’s sometimes used in the Madhyama Agama to refer to childishness. Beyond these differences, though, the two sutras have nearly identical content.


It is the same where in AN8.30 Venerable Anuruddha was staying: “land of the Cetīs in the Eastern Bamboo Park. (cetīsu viharati pācīnavaṃsadāye)” ?



While I was working on MA 74, which has the same place names, I worked out that the Chinese must be transliterating equivalents of the Pali words Cetīsu and Bhaggesu in these two sutras. My understanding is that those are plural forms of some sort for Ceti (Skt. Cedi) and Bhagga (Skt. Bharga). So, I think I deciphered that issue.

Waterside Grove is still a bit of a mystery. I’ve not found any evidence of its Indic equivalent yet, and seems different than the placename in the Pali sources, which is literally “East Bamboo Grove.” Sanskrit sources do have different names for the same places sometimes, though. It may be basically the same location (as far as we know).

In MA 74, in the verses that Aniruddha says at the end, he mentions being in a bamboo grove, but the transliteration before it is also mysterious. It comes close to Sanskrit Vyali, which means a snake or wild animal. Best guess I could come up with.

Transliterations are one of the biggest problems with translating the Agamas. If no one ever used them again or there’s no comments on them in the ancient glossaries, we’re stuck trying to match the Chinese syllables to Sanskrit, Prakit, or Gandhari.

The place names Mṛgadāva Park, Bhīṣaṇikā Grove, and Śuśumāragiri were all translated in Chinese, making them much easier to decipher. Śuśumāragiri literally means “crocodile mountain,” Bhīṣaṇikā Grove is the “dreadful forest” (sounding like something out of Harry Potter!), and Mṛgadāva Park in the Chinese is simply “deer preserve.” While translations introduce the trouble of choosing between synonyms in the source language, you at least know what the words meant.


I seem to be on a 4 or 5-day cycle now with these shorter sutras. My translation of MA 75 The Pure Way to the Imperturbable is up on Dharma Pearls now.

This sutra is parallel to MN 106 in the Pali and follows it fairly closely. While I’ve no commentaries in the Chinese sources to decipher which heavens the three imperturbable states correspond it, it’s pretty clear that the last couple are formless realm heavens. The Pali tradition reasons that the first three are the highest form realm heavens and the first two formless realm heavens, and that makes sense.


This weekend I posted my translation of MĀ 76 Ugracela. This sutra is parallel to two different Pali suttas (AN 8.63 and SN 47.3), which turn out to be two versions of what appears to be the same encounter.

An unnamed monk approaches the Buddha and asks for a concise summary of the teaching, promising to remember it well and put it in practice living in seclusion. The Buddha outlines for the monk a meditative program that begins with cultivating a wholesome mind.

Next, the Buddha has him focus on each of the four abodes of mindfulness while also practicing three forms of concentration. Once the four abodes of mindfulness are complete, the Buddha then tells him to develop the four measureless minds, filling the world with kindness, sympathy, joy, and equanimity in his mind.

The monk takes this teaching and puts it into practice in seclusion, eventually becoming an arhat.

When we compare this sutra to the two Pali versions, we discover two differences worth pointing out. First, the two Pali suttas differ mainly in that they separate the four abodes of mindfulness and the four measureless minds into separate practices, while the Chinese sutra combines the two into a single teaching.

The second difference is more literary: In both Pali suttas, the Buddha criticizes the monk with a seemingly sarcastic remark about monks who receive a teaching but don’t put it into practice. It’s absent from the Chinese.


Hey, everyone. :wave:

It seems like it’s been a month or two instead of a couple weeks with the sudden turn of events in the world. Last week I recovered somewhat and got a translation of MĀ 77 completed, which I edited over the weekend and added to Dharma Pearls tonight.

It’s a fairly close parallel to MN 68 At Naḷakapāna. Both sutras share the same structure and topics, but the exact wording and content varies somewhat at times. They clearly have a common ancestor, but the sectarian canons have filled in some of the material the way they saw fit.

In the Chinese version, the three clansmen are the same trio that the Buddha visited at the end of MĀ 72: Aniruddha, Nandika, and Kimbila. In this sutra, they had recently gone forth as monks when the Buddha decides to check up on them and give them a teaching. The Theravāda version doesn’t single these three monks out, but they are included in the group whom the Buddha teaches.

The Buddha covers three topics, the last of which is a lengthy list of cases when he reports on the destiny of an Arya disciple after they die. It’s lengthy in both sutras because he covers the four fruits for a monk and a nun, and three fruits for laymen and laywomen. The Buddha says that he reports these rebirths not to impress anyone but to inspire others to do the same as these disciples had.

In addition to this new translation, I’ve also revamped the Saṃyukta Āgama’s table of contents to include the English of other translators that are currently curated at SuttaCentral, and there’s a running translated vs. total sutra count next to each (counting any translation available). It’s not quite comprehensive yet but should be completed next month.


So far this month, I’ve added two new sutra translations to Dharma Pearls. MĀ 80 is drafted and next up for editing, and I’m hoping to also add MĀ 81 by May 1. MĀ 80 is another discourse given by Aniruddha on the meaning of the kaṭhina dharma when the Buddha and other monks assemble to make new robes for him. MĀ 81 is the famous Mindfulness of Body Sutra (MN 119) that collects together a group of practices related to mindfulness. At that point, we’ll be halfway through fascicle 20 of the Madhyama Āgama and have one more to go before the Dirghâyu chapter is complete, which I should be able to do in the first half of May. At that point, we’ll have about 12% of the Madhyama translated on Dharma Pearls.

MĀ 78 Brahmā’s Invitation to the Buddha

The Pali parallel for this sutra is MN 49. The Buddha notices that a Brahma has formed a wrong view that his heaven represents the ultimate liberation. The Buddha goes up to correct him, and does eventually manage to do so despite Mara’s repeated attempts to intervene. In the course of his conversation with Brahma, the Buddha mentions three higher Brahma heavens of radiance, which Aniruddha goes into more detail about in MĀ 79.

MĀ 79 The Greater Gods

The Pali parallel for MĀ 79 is MN 127. In this sutra, Aniruddha is invited by a layman along with three other monks for a meal at his home. There, the layman asks Aniruddha about two different liberations of mind he has heard about, wondering if they are really different or the same. Aniruddha explains that they are different. Aniruddha then describes the gods that live in the Brahma heavens of radiance. A fellow monk present questions him about those gods, and Aniruddha goes into more detail for him.


Thanks, @cdpatton! It’s interesting to see some additional details in MA 78 compared to MN 49. Do you know if this is the Brahma that is over our earth and world? And is this the same Brahma that’s referred to as Lord Creator in the sutta?

It’s a question that occurred to me when I was translating MA 78. In the Pali, the Brahma gets a name, but in the Chinese he’s just a Brahma. Yet, he does appear to step into Maha-Brahma’s shoes in some fashion as it goes on. It’s kind of ambiguous.


Thanks. There’s quite a bit of interesting topics to investigate in comparing MN 49 and MA 78.


This week, I’ve posted my translation of MĀ 80 The Rough Cloth. This sutra doesn’t appear to have a direct parallel in Pali. Aniruddha asks Ānanda to have a new set of robes made for him, and the entire saṅgha of monks at Śrāvastī are sent to the mountain where he was living. The Buddha goes along, and they make robes for him. The Buddha then excuses himself because of a backache and asks Aniruddha to teach the monks the “principle of the rough cloth” ( kaṭhina dharma).

A large part of Aniruddha’s discourse closely matches material found in MN 27, AN 4.198, and a few other places in the Theravada canon. He outlines the ascetic practice, beginning with the monk’s precepts and culminating in liberation. Afterward, the Buddha rises and praises him.

I also edited and added MĀ 42-51 to Dharma Pearls. These short sutras present different chains of progression towards liberation.


Why not add links to these at the About page! :smile:


Thanks for highlighting, Venerable!

Your quote also led me to:

So I thought I’d just mentioned that: